Ellen Headshot

Dr. Ellen Jefferson

Executive Director

Dr. Ellen Jefferson joined Austin Pets Alive! in 2008 as director. Within the first year of her leadership, Austin Pets Alive! reduced the killing of homeless cats and dogs in Austin by more than 20%. Since 2011, Austin Pets Alive! has not only played a central role in keeping Austin the largest No Kill city in the United States, defined as saving at least 90% of shelter animals, but also has been key in the city’s outstanding 94.7% save rate for shelter dogs and cats by 2016. Ellen’s experience with Emancipet, which she founded in 1999 and directed for nine years, had already made her a leader in Austin’s animal welfare community as well as nationally. Ellen graduated from Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. She is a featured speaker at conferences for Maddie’s Fund, Best Friends, and the No Kill Advocacy Center, and is the author of “Using Data to Make Austin a No-Kill City,” published by Maddie’s Fund. Ellen served on the National Spay/Neuter Task Force from 2007-2009 and has published work in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine. Among her many awards, she was named the Non-Profit Executive of the Year in 2013 by Greenlights (now Mission Capital), Austin’s leading nonprofit resource center. In 2016, she won the prestigious Maddie Hero Award, which “recognizes and honors the ‘top dogs’ in communities that are not only advancing the welfare of companion animals in the United States, but are leading the way with their innovative ideas, progressive thinking and lifesaving actions.” In November 2016, she was unanimously chosen to receive the first Avanzino Leadership Award, named after the father of No Kill and given for outstanding leadership in the No Kill movement.


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